You have just found out your German Shepherd is pregnant, and your dust thought is to panic. What do I know of dogs being pregnant? What do I do next? How long will the pregnancy period last? Is there an antenatal for dogs?
Relax, continue reading, and we will walk through all you need to know about caring for a pregnant German Shepherd.
How Long Does A German Shepherd Stay Pregnant?
The normal gestation period for German shepherd dogs is approximately 63 days from conception, although this can vary by several days. While this might seem like a straightforward answer, conception is often hard to determine.
What Is Gestation In German Shepherds?
Gestation is the period when a dog is pregnant with puppies. In other words, it is pregnancy, just as with humans, but this time, your dog.
However, while gestation and pregnancy mean the same thing, they are different. They differ in duration, process and results. But you need not worry about this. Keep in mind that gestation is the period your shepherd friend is pregnant.
Is there a specific period when a German Shepherd can get pregnant?
Yes, there is a time when German Shepherds can get pregnant. It is only during the heat cycle’s second stage that a German Shepherd can get pregnant. This is also the German Shepherd’s third stage of the heat cycle. There’s always a six-month gap between the heat cycle.
How Long Will My German Shepherd Be Pregnant For?
Another significant difference between pregnancy and gestation is that while all humans are pregnant for an average of 9 months, the duration of dogs varies depending on the breed.
German Shepherds are pregnant for an average of 63 days from the day of conception. There is the possibility of a puppy being born a few days earlier than a week, but it is not going to be more than 63 days.
If there is a situation where you don’t know the exact day of conception, it will be harder to know when the date of birth will be. In that situation, your veterinarian will help with preparing you and your dog for birth.
How Will I Know If My German Shepherd Is Pregnant?
The veterinarian helping you with birth is good, but how would you know your dog is pregnant in the first place?
There are many physical signs that would let you know for certain your German Shepherd is pregnant. They are:
- Sickness or vomiting
- Nipples may enlarge
- Weight gain
- Change in personality
- Frequent Urination
How Do I Confirm My German Shepherd’s Pregnancy?
While the physical signs are a good way to guess that your Shepherd is pregnant, there are other medical procedures to know that there really are puppies growing in your dear German Shepherd’s stomach.
- Blood Sample Test
This test can only be done after thirty-five days into gestation but is more accurate and cheaper than an ultrasound.
This remains the best way to find out if your Shepherd is pregnant and also know how many puppies to expect.
You can have an ultrasound done on your Shepherd as long as it has been twenty-five days since gestation. But it is preferable to wait until after thirty days to get an accurate reading.
The disadvantage to this is the charge for the scan, which varies between $300 and $500. Also, is the underbelly having to be shaved for the scan to be possible?
Other methods that can be used to determine pregnancy are:
- Hormone test
How Many Puppies Can I Expect?
You now know what things to look out for in your Shepherd to help you come to the conclusion that she is pregnant. Now the other problem is how many puppies to expect.
The litter expectancy number depends mostly on the parents, but you can expect your German Shepherd to produce up to 8 puppies on average. A well-nourished German Shepherd can produce up to 15 puppies in a litter.
Lastly, there is the influence of the father of the puppies, as a Shepherd can be well nourished and still have less number if the father has a low sperm count.
What Are The Stages Of Pregnancy In A German Shepherd?
Just like humans, dogs also go through stages of pregnancy with different changes each month. The months and changes that occur are listed below
During the first month, the embryos travel to the uterine horns, usually around day 7, and the embryos are embedded in the uterine lining around day 16. The fetus begins to take shape by day 22, and by day 28 or 30 a veterinarian should be able to detect fetal heartbeats on an ultrasound.
Somewhere around the 7th day, the embryos move to the uterine horns, and the embedment of the embryos occurs around day 16. The fetus by day 22 begins to take shape, and the veterinarian should be capable of detecting shape between day 28-20.
Many dogs don’t show any physical signs, but here are some signs that come up during the first month;
- Increase in appetite
- Slight enlargement in nipples
- A more affectionate behaviour
- Around week four, there will be clear vaginal discharge
- Decrease in physical activity
- “Morning sickness”
The development of the fetus is quick around the second month. On day 32, the eyelids form with the toes coming in 3 days later and the claws will be formed by day 40. By the 50th day, an x-ray will show the number of litters present.
Some visible changes include:
- Noticeably increase in appetite
- 20 to 50 percent weight gain
- Increase in urination
- Clear, odourless vaginal discharge
- Between days 40 – 45, their abdomen becomes firm and enlarged
- Decrease in appetite from day 45
- Visible “kick” in the abdomen
By now it is ready to give birth and the baby will have moved into the whelping position by then.
Some visible changes include
- Loss of appetite
- Body temperature drops
- Panting, pacing and aimless digging
- Trimming in the waist due to puppies moving into the birth canal
How Long Will My Shepherd Be In Labour?
Labour begins immediately after the gestation period and is divided into three stages.
Labour in dogs begins with contractions in the uterus muscular wall, which last for 12 to 24 hours and is not physically noticeable. Signs of labour contractions in dogs include restless and reclusive behaviour, vomiting, refusal to eat, occasional nesting and visible vaginal discharge.
This is the puppies’ delivery stage. Your dog will deliver one puppy at a time, with each delivery no longer than 1-to-2 hours and an interval of 30-to-60 minutes. The total delivery process can take between 1-to-24 hours, depending on the expected number of puppies.
Placenta delivery comes almost immediately after stage two. Labour is complete when all placentas have been successfully delivered.
Should your dog’s labour take more than 24 hours, contact your veterinarian, as this could be a sign of complication that may put the bitch and her puppies in danger.
How Do German Shepherds Give Birth?
German shepherds are a large breed of dogs and are capable of giving birth without much help. Regardless, you still want to be with your dog through labour. You can help your dog by providing her with a comfortable, clean and safe environment.
In some instances, a German shepherd might need a c-section to help her through the delivery process. You will need the services of your vet, who is experienced in removing puppies through a C-section.
How To Take Care Of A Pregnant German Shepherd
Caring for a pregnant German shepherd might either scare or excite you. Whichever it is, you need to take good care of your pet.
Here are ways to cater for your pregnant dog.
- Provision of Proper Nutrition
Just like in humans, nutritious food is very important for your pregnant German shepherd. Provide her with quality, satisfying foods and ensure she is on a good diet. Do not change her diet unless your vet request otherwise. According to the American Kennel Club, feed her small meals more frequently than large meals at once.
- Regular Vet Visits
For your pregnant German shepherd to stay healthy and fit, often ensure veterinary visits. Always look out for signs of discomfort or unusual changes and inform your vet.
- Give Your Pet Space
Allow your pregnant dog to be herself. Give her space and do not coerce her into doing things like playing or eating when she’s not in the mood.
- Provide a Whelping Box
A pregnant dog needs a whelping box to ease her delivery process. A whelping box should be clean, safe and away from people and other pets. As the expected delivery date gets close, help her set up a comfortable whelping box.
In this article, we have given you all the information you needed to know about how long a German shepherd stays pregnant.
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